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Rural News

Vibrant ag economy helps urban areas, planner says

Capital Press | Posted on November 9, 2017

If growers near cities work with local planners so land-use and transportation decisions will help maximize the farms’ profitability, the result will be an improved economy for the region, an official said during a conference. While working with government is “not an arena they normally like to play in unless they have to,” farmers can benefit from the relationships, said David Schabazian, a manager for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.Schabazian is leading a project called the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, a nearly decade-long effort to more explicitly include rural areas in the region’s land-use and transportation planning decisions.He said the project has demonstrated to regulators and others that agriculture outside town plays a key role in an urban area’s economy as well as providing environmental benefits such as wildlife habitat and flood control.

Practicing the small town art of participation

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 9, 2017

A new generation of young people is returning to rural areas to immerse themselves in the difficult and rewarding work of being part of a community. Maybe rural America has something to teach the rest of the country on that score.

Foreign born resident account for most of rural population growth

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 9, 2017

In a period of very low population growth, an increase in the number of rural residents who were born in foreign countries helped keep the non-urban population stable from 2010 to 2015.  Rural America showed almost no population growth during the first half of this decade. But the little growth that did occur outside the nation’s metropolitan areas came from an increase in foreign-born residents.Rural counties added 161,000 residents from 2010-15, according to Census population figures. Nearly three-quarters of that growth was the result of people who moved to rural America after being born in foreign countries, according to Census data.Rural America’s population grew by a scant 0.3 percent during the period and now stands at 46.2 million. Without the increase in foreign-born residents, the rural population growth would have been 0.1 percent, Census estimates show.

Forest Bonds may provide a way to support fire prevention

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 9, 2017

Managing public forests in ways that prevent wildfires could save millions of dollars in future fire-emergency costs. But restoring forests is expensive, and limited public budgets emphasize short-term disaster spending rather than long-term management. A private firm is testing a new model that they say could fill the short-term budgetary needs to get forest restoration practices up and running.“The value of forest restoration oftentimes exceeds the cost,” said Leigh Madeira, one of Blue Forest Conservation’s founders. “But that doesn’t mean that the beneficiaries have the capital to pay for needed restoration projects.”Blue Forest says they’ve come up with a way for communities to use that future increased value or cost savings of forests to pay for restoration activities today.Blue Forest’s funding model is to collect private capital through a “forest resilience bond,” based on the money the forest owner is likely to make later, either through the reduced chance of forest fires or through additional earnings from forest products like lumber. Blue Forest then helps to coordinate forest restoration activities with business partners on the ground, often small, local enterprises who do the actual restoration work. The beneficiary of the restoration, whether a federal agency like the Forest Service or a publicly-owned water utility company, then pays for the services on a long-term contracted rate.

A Wyoming county pursues a private immigration jail

High Country News | Posted on November 9, 2017

Uinta County officials have endorsed a private company’s proposal to build a for-profit immigration jail near Evanston, Wyoming. Both Evanston’s city council and Uinta County’s commission unanimously passed resolutions in June to support the Management Training Corporation’s plan to build and manage an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center just outside Evanston city limits. The jail would have the capacity to hold 500 undocumented immigrants detained by ICE while they await court hearings in Salt Lake City.Uinta officials are uncertain whether they need Wyoming’s five statewide elected officials to approve the project. It is possible a jail holding immigration detainees does not require the same level of approval as other forms of private prisons regulated under Wyoming law, a county official said. Either way, MTC’s efforts to jail immigration detainees from throughout the northern rockies in Uinta County have thus far gone largely without notice in the state at large.The private jail would be similar to an MTC-operated ICE detention facility in Southern California, said Mike Murphy, MTC’s vice president of corrections marketing.

‘Ponce’s Law’ bill allows animal abusers to be barred from having pets

Daytona Beach New Journal | Posted on November 9, 2017

A bill called “Ponce’s Law” would put more bite into Florida’s animal cruelty cases by allowing judges to prohibit people convicted of abusing animals from owning pets and giving prosecutors more leverage in the cases, said state Rep. Tom Leek, who introduced the bill. The bill is named in honor of Ponce, a Labrador retriever puppy found beaten to death in the Ponce Inlet backyard of Travis Archer earlier this year. The bill is a positive note to an otherwise grim event, said Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican.

Addiction: a Rural Reality

Farm and Dairy | Posted on November 8, 2017

“In these rural areas, it’s a great challenge to cover distances with people and get people to where they need to be,” Black said. But rural communities also have their advantages. Karen Wiggins, director for the Guernsey County Alcohol and Drug Services, said rural communities have the advantage of “working together” and being able to give people battling addiction “a personal touch.”“We can’t lose sight of the clients we’re working with,” said Wiggins. “My big thing is personal touch, talking with people — making them feel like they matter.”But Wiggins, like Black, admits that rural communities have challenges. There’s less funding, fewer facilities and greater distance between those facilities.

Millennials to Small Cities: Ready or Not, Here We Come

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on November 7, 2017

Tyler and Alissa Hodge, two of the hundreds of young professionals who have moved here in recent years, noticed that despite the influx there was not a single city-style coffee shop downtown. So the couple opened one in May, with sofas, baked goods and local micro-roaster beans, adding a play area as a nod to the family-friendly culture of this southern Indiana city and their own three children.“The 18- to 35-year-olds expect something like that, but they just didn’t have it,” said Tyler Hodge, 32, who used crowdfunding to help finance the shop. The same tactic was used for a rock climbing gym opened in September by a group of young engineers who, like Hodge, spend their weekdays working at Cummins Inc., the diesel engine company that is the city’s largest employer.“There’s not that much to do here for the young people,” said Juan Valencia, a 25-year-old Colombian immigrant who is one of the founders of the climbing gym. “We think this will help.”Before the gym opened, aficionados had to drive an hour north to Indianapolis or south to Louisville, Kentucky, for an indoor climbing wall.As the economy improves and millennials move around the country in search of jobs, some are finding themselves far from the youth culture they learned to expect from city life in other parts of the country. But the tradeoff can be a less burdensome cost of living, a more tightknit community, and a chance to make new towns their own.

Solved: Deer bringing death to moose in Minnesota

Minneapolis Star Tribune | Posted on November 7, 2017

The parasites that deer carry into the North Woods prove fatal, but hunters resist thinning the herd. After spending millions of dollars and tracking hundreds of moose with GPS collars, scientists have pinpointed the primary culprit behind the animal’s ever-shrinking numbers in Minnesota.It’s the deer. Parasites they carry into Minnesota’s North Woods have emerged as the leading cause of death for moose, state and tribal biologists have concluded.But solving that mystery creates a thornier one: How can state wildlife managers balance efforts to save the iconic moose with the demands of hunters who want more deer in Minnesota’s far North Woods?

Breed bans are popular, but do they make the public safer?

AVMA | Posted on November 7, 2017

Breed-specific laws ban or restrict ownership of dog breeds believed to be responsible for the most serious attacks on people. Pit bull–type dogs are the poster child of breed laws, but they can also apply to Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and other large breeds. The American Kennel Club explained in a statement to JAVMA News that "pit bull" is a term commonly used to describe a particular type of dog—many being of mixed breeding—that has some ancestry relating to breeds in the United States, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. The AKC said "pit bull" is also used sometimes to describe mixes or breeds not registered with the AKC with names such as American Pit Bull Terrier or American Bully. "AKC does not consider Pit Bulls to be purebred dogs, and we register no such dogs," the organization said.Breed restrictions emerged and proliferated during the 1980s as news reports increasingly portrayed pit bull–type dogs as an apex predator, one on which no other animals prey. Sports Illustrated highlighted a story on dogfighting in its July 27, 1987, issue with a cover featuring a snarling dog under the headline "Beware Of This Dog: The Pit Bull Terrier." Hollywood, Florida, enacted the nation's first breed-specific ordinance in 1980 after a pit bull–type dog scalped a 7-year-old boy and mangled his face. That law, which required owners of such dogs to prove they possessed $25,000 in personal liability insurance, was overturned two years later; the judge cited a lack of evidence that pit bull–type dogs were more dangerous than other dogs.Communities reeling after a vicious dog attack may respond by prohibiting or strictly regulating what is assumed to be the responsible breed as a quick fix to a legitimate problem, according to Rebecca Wisch, associate editor and clinical staff attorney with the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law. "Breed-specific laws give people a sense of security," she explained, adding that owners of a banned breed sometimes email MSU's animal law center. "These people face either having to get rid of a dog they consider a family member or move out of the city. That's a pretty tall order for some people," Wisch said.